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David Schweizer

Leeds and Liverpool - Longest UK Canal?

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Last night on the BBC news it was announced that a 55 mile section of the Leeds and Liverpool canal will be closed until further notice because of water shortages, something which had already been widely circulated on line.  Interestingly the C&RT Spokesman stated that the L&L was the longest man made canal in the UK. I thought that honour fell to the Grand Union, which at 137 miles is some ten miles longer than the L&L, or am I missing something?

Edited by David Schweizer
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The Leeds and Liverpool is 127 miles between the two cities but add in the Rufford and Leigh branches (7.25 miles each), in total it is 142 miles.

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The Grand Union is an amalgamation of several shorter canals, built by separate companies. I suspect that the L&L is the longest canal built by a single company, even if you discount the section built by the Lancaster Canal Co.

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18 minutes ago, David Mack said:

The Grand Union is an amalgamation of several shorter canals, built by separate companies. I suspect that the L&L is the longest canal built by a single company, even if you discount the section built by the Lancaster Canal Co.

Perfectly correct, though the original scheme for the canal would have been even longer. Known as the Grand Canal in 1766, it would have linked the Ribble, via Skipton and York, with Scarborough and Market Weighton, and thus Hull. Branches were also proposed to Liverpool, Lancaster, Manchester (Via Blackburn and Bury, with additional branches to Bolton and Rochdale), Leeds, Bradford, Knaresborough, Thirsk, Richmond and Wearside. Navigable water supplies would have come from the Rochdale area and Settle. It was too 'grand' a scheme to build in one go, so was cut down to what became the L&LC as most investors came from Lancashire and West Yorkshire, or had links to those areas.

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It would be an interesting exercise to count up all the Birmingham Canal Navigations mileage, which I recall should exceed both the respective lengths for the GU and LL. Whilst each constituent waterway was of lengths that ranged from a fraction of a mile to lengths of 20  or even 20 plus miles. The combined lengths recorded in the published 1919 distance tables seem to be more.  

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It might be 127 miles long but from next Monday I can only use about 3 miles of it   ??

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4 hours ago, Heartland said:

It would be an interesting exercise to count up all the Birmingham Canal Navigations mileage, which I recall should exceed both the respective lengths for the GU and LL. Whilst each constituent waterway was of lengths that ranged from a fraction of a mile to lengths of 20  or even 20 plus miles. The combined lengths recorded in the published 1919 distance tables seem to be more.  

At its maximum, the BCN was circa 160 miles in length. However, this mileage was built by a variety of companies, and amalgamated/extended over quite a long period (like the GUC). The original BCN was from Birmingham to Autherley, and was around 22 miles in length.

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1 hour ago, Pluto said:

At its maximum, the BCN was circa 160 miles in length. However, this mileage was built by a variety of companies, and amalgamated/extended over quite a long period (like the GUC). The original BCN was from Birmingham to Autherley, and was around 22 miles in length.

And, IIRC correctly, around 100 miles is still open

 

I'm guessing the Grand Junction was probably the second longest main line built buy a single company - 93 miles? The original Oxford line was similar but is now quite a bit shorter

Going the other way the K&A is quite a bit shorter than it's given credit for - although the company managed 86 miles of navigation the Kennet and the Avon were open several decades earlier and bit the K&A Co. built was only 57 miles

 

So whilst I don't think those fancy northern staircases can hold a candle to Caen Hill, they are on the longest canal built by one company 

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17 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

And, IIRC correctly, around 100 miles is still open

 

I'm guessing the Grand Junction was probably the second longest main line built buy a single company - 93 miles? The original Oxford line was similar but is now quite a bit shorter

Going the other way the K&A is quite a bit shorter than it's given credit for - although the company managed 86 miles of navigation the Kennet and the Avon were open several decades earlier and bit the K&A Co. built was only 57 miles

 

So whilst I don't think those fancy northern staircases can hold a candle to Caen Hill, they are on the longest canal built by one company 

Only in the UK. The Canal de l'Est in France was 439km (275 miles) long when constructed around the 1880s.

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1 hour ago, Pluto said:

Only in the UK. The Canal de l'Est in France was 439km (275 miles) long when constructed around the 1880s.

I think the Erie can top that! 375 miles or thereabouts? However it was built by New York State rather than a private company so might not fit the strict criteria ?

 

Edited to add - i see the canal de l'est was built in two halves and that the northern half is mostly the canalised Rive Meuse, not sure it counts...

Edited by magpie patrick

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